Some Links to Pielke Jr

Roger Pielke has a few threads recently dealing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings – today there’s an op ed by von Storch and Zorita. A few days ago, he posted his own report and then posted up my response letter, both of which have attracted a few comments.

I agree with both VZ and Pielke Jr a lot of the time, perhaps even most of the time (except for my beef with VZ on how they applied the Mannian PC method to a tame network). In their Op Ed, VZ didn’t mention that Barton appears to have already decided to request an independent review of climate models by a non-climatological panel of NAS. I think that anyone who is concerned about human impact on climate should view this very positively.


  1. JP
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    While this site is mainly interested in the statistical science behind studies such as MBH9x, as von Storch has alluded, this site cannot help but be caught in the political firestorms of public advocacy. What really upsets me the most is the big black eye given to climate science in general. The lack of due diligence by the IPCC in accepting MBH9x hook-line-and-sinker is the real story. Climate Audit wouldn’t be needed if that due diligence was excercised. Where the IPCC enjoys some degree of political cover, the authors of Climate Audit are on thier own. This entire episode should be very embarrasing for many.

    I remember a recent conversation I had with a friend who accused me of being a dupe for Big Oil because I questioned the “settled science” (ie hottest year 1998, the 90s hottest decade in 1000 years etc…). I told him that AGW could very well be occuring. I based this more on a gut feeling than on science, and I was rather upset that too many “scientists” were taking thier cue from a questionable statisitcal analysis of surface temp proxies for the last 1000 years. If there is a future agreement concerning AGW it will be in spite of MBH9x. You don’t have to “get rid of the MWP” in order to prove that we are poisoning our climate.

  2. KevinUK
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 3:48 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Keep questioning the ‘science’ that supposedly backs up the claims for AGW. I think you’ll find that as the ‘science’ is based on contrived models starting with Hansen’s (99% certain model) back in 1988 though to today’s equally contrived (but not quite 99% certain anymore) models that you’ll find that the ‘science’ on which claims of AGW are based is virtually no existent. Do a google search on Hansen and see just how much this ‘grandfather of anthropogenic global warming’ has changed his mind over the subsequent years.

    Would you care to elaborate as to how you think that we are ‘poisoning our clmate’. How can climate be poisoned and what’s wrong with being a ‘dupe for Big Oil’?


  3. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 3:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    KevinUK, you say the science for AGW is ‘virtually non existant’, so all this is ‘contrived’. What would convince you? Indeed, could anything convince you?

  4. mark
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 4:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Not one bit of that mess indicates anthropogenic forcing, Peter, plus, anything that says “temperature reconstruction” has recently been reduced to rubbish. So yes, the link to A is contrived.


  5. Louis Hissink
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 4:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re# 3

    Quoting Wikipedia does not seem a useful thing to do Peter, especially when it is known to be politically correct. As for the science of AGW, since has it ever been science?

  6. jae
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 5:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    4. No, not all “reconstructions” have been reduced to rubbish. See my favorite one.(see the Ecological Modeling PDF).

  7. jae
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 5:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Peter, you just don’t get it. Just because there is a warming trend does not make it “unprecidented.” THAT’s where the hockey stick is misleading. See the PDF file that I referenced above. There is CLEARLY a cyclic pattern of warming and cooling.

  8. bender
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 5:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    On the independence of these various reconstructions, you don’t have to take Wegman’s word for it. The paleoclimatologists themselves have pointed out that:

    “all of these reconstructions draw data from the same proxy pool and are therefore not truly independent assessments of climate variation”

    Esper, J., Frank, D. and Wilson, R.J.S. 2004. Climate Reconstructions: Low-Frequency Ambition and High-Frequency Ratification. EOS, 85(12)

  9. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Jul 31, 2006 at 7:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I find the assessments of the US political climate on climate policy by von Storch and Zorita to be both insightful and mostly accurate.

    The democrats consider the “scientific evidence” sufficient for political action.

    Most Republicans did not deny the existence of emerging man-made climate change, but likely considered the intensity and the impacts less severe than the Democrats.

    The Democrats have tested their political winds and have decided which way they are blowing, while the Republicans are not convinced partly because they judge the Democrats never to be correct in these matters and mostly because they are as yet unsure of the direction in which their political winds are blowing.

    The same staffer explained that the political system would be able to deal with uncertainties. Thus, it would be best for science to present the full range of uncertainties to policymakers, so that they can come up with their choice of best action. The alternative, namely to present a “consensus”-science would not be that well received.

    If this were only the case, it would certainly make most of us skeptics a lot happier. Unfortunately the political system, as practiced from either side of the aisle, is not that pure or astute. A staffer, with an as yet untainted view of the political system, comes across more quaint and charming than predictive with this statement.

    Our major conclusion of the situation is that we are facing a crisis of credibility of climate change studies in the US political arena. In the US, one group, favouring action, is manly interested in evidence not necessarily bound by good quality but which supports their political agenda of regulation, whereas the other group, reluctant to regulatory action, is voicing concern about the ongoing ability of science to be an “impartial, objective” advisor (to the extent possible).

    This is more the situation outside of Washington, I think, and with the former group in the majority.

    We expect that a similar attitude towards environmental sciences will also arise in Germany with a certain time lag.

    Could be, but I personally doubt that many science skeptics will appear in the EU before the citizens of those nations feel some pain in their daily lives from its prescriptions.

  10. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 1:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Ok, replies #4 and #5 look like ‘nothing could convince me’ replies to me. But, I don’t want to be wrong, so convince me otherwise. Could anything that might happen in your lifetimes convince you of man#s effect on the climate to the extent of degrees of warming as opposed to fraction of degrees? Are your minds open to such a possibility?

    Wrt #7, good, you accept it’s warming. Please don’t put words into my mouth I didn’t use the word ‘unprecidented’. Btw, how do you know there is cyclical warming, you reject all the proxy evidence! Oh, I guess when it’s you you’re just right…

  11. Bryn Hughes
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 2:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Have never called the present warming “Unprecedented”?

  12. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 3:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    R2 #11. I doubt it, not sure though and searching CA isn’t easy. Let me know if you find I have.

    I do think the warming has probably pushed us to temperature levels at or higher than for 2 000 years, maybe since the ice age. But, I’m not sure about any of that, though it seems likely to me (going by what the science says).

  13. bruce
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 5:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #15: Let me have a go first and see if I get it anywhere right.

    1. You are passionately concerned that AGW is going to cause massive problems for humanity.

    2. You have formed the view that a) the planet is warming, b) that CO2 levels are increasing, c) that man’s activities are the cause of the rising CO2 levels, d) that the warming is due to rising CO2 levels caused by man and e) that if we are all to avert death and destruction, we must reduce combustion of fossil fuels, thereby reducing CO2 emissions, and thereby bringing temperatures back under control.

    3. Somehow you have convinced yourself that there is compelling, scientifically robust evidence for each of these points.

    4. You think that I, a sceptic, can only disagree with you because I have, in one way or another, been paid to disagree with you by interests that will be adversely affected if you get your way.

    5. You think that the work of the Hockey Team meets accepted standards of scientific enquiry and proof.

    6. You kind of think that you remember back to when you were 5, and that you can remember which years since were warmer or cooler than others.

    I’ll go the next step for you, and explain my position.

    1. I think that there are many massively greater threats to humanity than AGW, and the perverse focus on that issue is distracting efforts that could be MUCH more productive in terms of alleviating human misery.

    2. I can’t see how you (and your RC colleagues) can possibly say that each of these points are demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. Fact is, in relation to a) Phil Jones et al STILL obfuscate, refuse to release data, methods, or explain their adjustments. “Trust Us” they say, “We are Working Climate Scientists”. My response is, “So, get on with the job and comply with normally accepted standards of science. Don’t proseletise!!” I question the warming trend. Not the direction, but certainly the reported magnitude. b) No question that CO2 levels are rising, but from a VERY small number to a slightly less small number. Most people concerned about global warming have NO idea what the CO2 levels really are. Most are shocked when I tell them that CO2 in the atmosphere is around 1 part in 2700. c) How do you know that man’s activities are the cause? Yes, combustion of fossil fuels is increasing the level, but what we don’t know (at least I don’t) is how man’s emissions compare with natural sources, nor do we know how the natural sequestration processes work (plant growth, absorption in oceans etc). d) So far, at least for me, the “Climate Scientists” have NOT demonstrated that the warming is due to anthropogenic CO2 increases. It could easily be due to solar cycles (pretty well demonstrated) or other causes that we can’t discern at this time. e) I am not convinced that reducing levels of fossil fuel combustion will fix the problem (if there is a problem in the first place).

    I suggest that we, as sane, rational and educated people, sit down and figure out how, using robust scientific processes, we can gain a better understanding of the above issues. I have to say that the sorry efforts of the Hockey Team, now exposed as shoddy science, have done much to discredit the “Climate Scientists”.

    3. I remain sceptical until sound science is delivered as to the above points.

    4. I am an independent thinker, and not in the pay of anybody who has an agenda to push. This is REALLY what I think, right or wrong.

    5. It is clearly demonstrated, and I think widely accepted, that the work of the Hockey Team doesn’t meet accepted standards of robust science.

    6. My memory, for what it is worth, is not clear on whether it is warmer now than it was before. Frankly, when daily temperatures range from 2 degrees to 22 degrees (at the moment in our winter) over a day, and when they rise from 5 degrees when I leave home to 20 degrees when I reach our place in the country some two hours away, I personally adapt to the changing temperatures. I put on a coat, or take it off. Changes such as 0.6 degree over 100 years are imperceptible, and I challenge anybody to demonstrate that they can tell the difference.

    For the sake of our grandchildren, yours, and mine, can we PLEASE start focussing on REAL SCIENCE, not political BS as advocated by Stephen Schneider et al.

  14. bruce
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 5:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Que? Something happened while I was composing my epistle. Some posts that I posted and Peter Hearnden responded to disappeared. Oh well! My reference to #15 was right at the time I started, but that post (and others) has disappeared now.

  15. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 5:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Btw, how do you know there is cyclical warming, you reject all the proxy evidence!

    Inferring that a process is cyclic does not require nearly as much precision in the uncertainty estimate as an inference regarding the amplitude of one of the cycles.

    Who is dismissing evidence? It seems that it’s you that’s systematically dismissing the uncertainty of the confidence envelope around the historical “evidence”. Which, of course, you must for your argument to be upheld.

  16. charles
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 5:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #13 I agree with Bruce

  17. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 5:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #14. I deleted some pointless ragging which unfortunately escalates all too often.

  18. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 6:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #12 PH, what is your estimate of the A in AGW? And what is the precision on your estimate?

    As you know, many at CA do not dispute A>0. However you, like many believers, would have everyone leap from the position that A>0 to something much more drastic, A>>àŽⲮ In your next post could you include a script showing us how you estimated the mean and standard error on A?

    If you are incapable or unwilling to providing such a script, and are more relying on The Word of others (in which case you’re forgiven; that’s a bug that’s going around), then maybe you could get some of the research groups that you like to cite to do that for us? An open discussion of the facts would be terrific. Thanks.

  19. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 6:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #18, oh, of course it depends upon the eventual CO2 conc, how much the planet is de forested, what other changes we make, but, what the review the IPCC came up with says 1.5 – 5.8C being narrowed down to 2-4C is what I’d go with.

    Ask climate scientist/atmosphere physcists about the rest. They know, I’m just here (like everyone else) to post my opinion.

    it’s a pity you called me a believer btw. But, I guess you’re one too?

    Re #13 (as is now) which I’d missed.

    Bruce, your views of me and my replies,

    1. I think it might well cause problems.
    2. Basically, but not the touch you add to make me seem like a wolf cryer :( .
    3. The unconstructive reply: Somehow you haven’t? The constructive reply: the is a lot of evidence, I’m reasonably intelligent, I’ve formed a view.
    4. No, I DO NOT think that! I think you have a different opinion – OK!?
    5. Yes, I do, in that it’s one of several studies, not perfect, not busted.
    6. Well, I’m nearly 50…

    My replies to your views:

    1. OK, that’s your view. I think they are problems, I happen to think AGW is also a problem.
    2. It’s been done, and your point c is wrong, one explaination for how we know where the extra CO2 is coming from.

    3. I think sound science has been delivered, that’s why I’m less sceptical than you :)
    4. I accept that :) will you accept I am???
    5. I don’t accept that.
    6. In the UK the LIA was about 1C colder than now. I challenge anyone to show me they can’t tell the difference. In the UK the difference between a year averaging 10C and 9C is quite clear and obvious.

    I’ll make no similar appeal, other than for people to lay off good science and scientists.

  20. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    PH: Go bludgeon someone else with your dull tool. I did not call you a believer, I pointed out a similarity between your statements & those of AGW believers: a disinterest in the uncertainty problem. In my experience “good scientists” are deeply concerned about uncertainty because they know that confident assertions come from precise measurements. Bad scientists are the ones tend to ignore measurement error, sampling error, experimental error, estimation error, and propagation of errors. You may be content with the level of uncertainty surrounding estimates of A, but if so, you are in the minority.

  21. Geoff
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 7:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Coming back to Roger’s comments, does anyone know of any paper he has written where he has clearly spelled out his views on why the outcome of the scientific review of MBH9X does not have policy and D&A implications? I tried to post on his blog but it never made it.

    Many climate papers I read seem to have a different take on these topics. For example, quoting from a paper earlier this year in GRL:

    “For climate predictions from general circulation models to be interpreted with confidence, a robust record of past climatic changes is required. Without such a record, natural variability of the climate system cannot be separated from changes induced by anthropogenic activities and by individual forcing mechanisms [Hansen et al., 2005]“. (1)

    It would seem pretty obvious to me and by now quite a few others that the MBH9X studies have been clearly demonstrated to be non-robust. Therefore, anyone who has relied on a GCM which has reported confidence in their results due to agreement with the MBH9X studies would now be called upon to review their confidence, and to see if it was misplaced. Of course, they might conclude that other studies give them such confidence, but if those other studies were relying on proxies also now not recommended by the NAS, it’s hard to see how they could be relied on.

    If a significant portion of the “record of past climate changes” is not “robust”, then it’s hard to see how this would not call into question the conclusion of the GCMs. If they are called into question, it seems it would have policy implications.

    What am I missing?


    (1) Hugo Beltrami, J. F. Gonzalez-Rouco, and M. B. Stevens; Subsurface temperatures during the last millennium: Model and observation, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L09705, doi:10.1029/2006GL026050, 2006

    (2) Hansen, J., et al. (2005), Earth’s energy imbalance: Confirmation and

    implications, Science, 308, 1431– 1435. [Note that the Hansen article does not discuss observation confirmation of models in detail, but the whole study is one of comparing a model to observations]

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 8:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #21. A question that I’m mulling over: for the purposes of modeling NH average temperature (and ONLY this), do GCMs out-perform or contain any information on NH average tempeature that is not available from 1-D or 2-D models?

    If they don’t, for policy purposes, why are we spending so much time and energy on 3-D models other than people being successful in getting funded?

    Also, shouldn’t the focus of policy presentations be on 1-D and 2-D models if the 3-D models add negligible or no information to NH temperature averages – rather than bulky reviews of possibly irrelevant 3-D models? Just asking.

  23. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 8:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What am I missing?


  24. TCO
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 8:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What do you mean exactly with the 1/2/3 D characterization?

  25. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 8:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Coming back to Roger’s comments, does anyone know of any paper he has written where he has clearly spelled out his views on why the outcome of the scientific review of MBH9X does not have policy and D&A implications?

    I think Jr.’s comments re the NAS panel are exactly this sentiment. He sort of said “now that the HS doesn’t matter, we can get on to the real debate of policy regarding GW” (paraphrased).


  26. Roger Pielke, Jr.
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 9:27 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Thanks for the comments. You can find my views on the role of predictions in policy expressed in our book titled Prediction:

    For those not interested in that tome, have a look at these articles which should explain my views on the climate issue, D&A, and predictions:

    Sarewitz, D. and R. A. Pielke, Jr., 2000. Breaking the Global-Warming Gridlock. The Atlantic Monthly, 286(1), 55-64.

    Pielke, Jr., R. A. and D. Sarewitz, 2003. Wanted: Scientific Leadership on Climate, Issues in Science and Technology, Winter, pp. 27-30.

    This article explains how the Climate Convention framed the issue in such a way so as to make D&A and long-term predictions central to the political debate; they need not have:

    Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2005. Misdefining “”climate change”: consequences for science and action, Environmental Science & Policy, Vol. 8, pp. 548-561.

    Finlly, my recent Congressional testimony explains why a focus on long-term predictions, whatever their merits, are not likely to be practically effective in any case:

    Apologies for the dump of materials, but anyone interested in my views will find them in these materials.

    Thanks Steve for the chance to share them.

  27. welikerocks
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 9:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m sorry but I go farther in thinking then #25.

    [snip- sorry, rocks, you know better,]

  28. welikerocks
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: [snip] #27 Yeah better means less uncomfortable. ;)

    Put another way: I think that to be confused about the behavior of the climate science community in this matter can be eliminated by examining their politics. The mind set that prevails can be summed up in the beginning statement by the Senator named Shakowski (? not sure of the spelling) at the hearing when she said at the start of her questioning “This whole thing depresses me” ie: the audit of the climate models illustrating her belief in AGW are shown to be flawed. And this makes her sad!

  29. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Reply


    From the below excerpt from Pielke Jr’s House testimony, I can see why none of the posters here who see evidence that AGW will be a major future threat have bothered to answer my queries on what policies they favor and their estimations of its likely success.

    The bottom line is that with respect to modulating the behavior of the climate system current greenhouse gas mitigation policies being (discussed or implemented) are more
    symbolic than substantive. A number of observers believe that focusing on such policies has limited the scope of discussions about alternative policies that might show greater substantive outcomes. Advocates for action have limited discussion of alternatives by asserting that, for all of their flaws current approaches are merely “first steps” and a discussion of options might diminish political momentum for action. Of course,
    opponents to action don’t wish to discuss policy options in the first place. As discussed below, action on adaptation has been a victim of the institutionalization of climate policy, which shows a strong bias in favor of mitigation over adaptation. But even with a pace of emissions reductions that seems practically if not politically inconceivable today, such reductions would have little or no perceptible effect on the climate system for decades.

    If citizens of the world do not react in a timely manner to more real and readily predictable future problems such as government SS and health care programs, then, of course, the time-lag cost to benefits of climate regulation can expect little effort (in the way of concrete actions) other than talking about it and appealing to political correctness. Pielke Jr discusses that point below in his testimony.

    The reality of the time-lag of costs to benefits illustrates the disingenuousness of using
    current climate events to justify mitigation action. Due to the properties of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and their effects on the climate system, even if society takes
    immediate and drastic action on emissions, there can be no scientifically valid argument that such actions will lead to a perceptibly better climate in the coming decades. For the
    foreseeable future the most effective policy responses to climate-related impacts (e.g., such as hurricanes and other disasters or diseases such as malaria) will necessarily be adaptive.

    The point of this analysis is not to throw up our hands and do nothing about mitigation. But the asymmetry in costs and benefits suggest that if meaningful action is to occur on mitigation we must think about different strategies, and in particular policy options that have more symmetry between the timing of costs and benefits.

    Localization and/or using short term cost to benefit time frames of the GHG emissions in the areas given below from Pielke Jr’s testimony are not much different, in my view, than what has been part of the US federal government’s energy policy for several years. Many would argue that these alternatives be left to the market processes as government has not shown any particular expertise in pre-selecting the best alternatives and will never do it without neglecting the economic issues for those political in the processes.

    Examples of such short-term issues related to mitigation include the costs of energy, the benefits of reducing reliance on fossil fuels from the Middle East, the innovation and job-creating possibilities of alternative energy technologies, particulate air pollution, transportation efficiencies, and so on. This approach to climate change is contrary to the dominant approach (see point #6 below).

  30. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Reply


    job-creating possibilities of alternative energy technologies

    Which translated means, “the higher costs of alternative energy”. Ultimately all costs are labor costs or profit. (Even “rent” costs are ultimately labor costs +profit, though often in a very round-about way.)

  31. Dane
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    PH- You and your link (the daily Koz, what an excellent scientific unbiased source?)did not anser the main question which was once again “how man’s emissions compare with natural sources”.

    That was my volcano question some time ago, still no answers. The link answered part of Bruces question about how one can tell the difference between natural and fossil fuel CO2, but not how much comes from natural sources. It is a simple question with a complex answer. Based on my research since then ony 4 volcanos are being monitored for Co2 output, all during periods of quiet, not eruptive phases, plus all the CO2 that undersea volcanos release, none of those have ever been monitored. So again, how much is natural? The 3% number given by one poster had no sources, the other posts all listed the same old 1991 study, mostly of Mauna Loa with very limited data and a statement saying so in the begining of the study.

  32. bender
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #31, #19
    I am also patiently waiting for an answer here. Periodic silence after a tough question, followed by a resurgence in clap-trap. No answers forthcoming. It’s a recurring pattern. What does one take away from that?

    I won’t rush to judgement though, as I know that a recurring pattern can not be inferred with absolute precision.

  33. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 4:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: #32

    If you’re also talking about Volcanoes, I have to say that I looked at the subject some time back and pretty much decided what everyone else said, that the total CO2 emitted by volcanoes isn’t very large compared to other sources. You don’t need to monitor too many volcanoes to see what sorts of volumes of gasses they typically emit. Yes, there are lots of underseas volcanoes, but the seepage type emissions are most all dissolved in the water anyway and even when they aren’t, the total number of volcanoes are known and the figure for emissions can be calculate with a reasonable precision. It’s not as large as human emissions by any means, and wasting time on the subject just makes us look silly.

    Granted that’s just my opinion and I’m open to being corrected, but if you wanted feedback on that subject, there it is.

  34. Dane
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 4:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t see the monitoring of the natural CO2 sources as being silly. I see it more of a way to figure out what is actually going on, not what is calculated to be going on. Plus we must remember that the volcanic emissions are not constant, never have been, never will be. Just because it is quite now doesn’t mean that it will always be so. That seems like a good enough reason to monitor them if CO2 is the boogieman we are told that it is. Plus don’t you want to know how much CO2 is emmitted from a Volcanic eruption? Numerous types of volcanos, numerous types of eruptions. Seems a worthy thing to know just for the sake of knowing?

  35. Lee
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 4:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 34:

    Dane, yes getting more precise data would be interesting and useful. Who’s arguing otherwise?

    No, based on several convergent lines of analysis, volcanic emissions are not a source for the dramatic increase in atmospheric co2 over the last century.

    Those are two separate questions, and two separate answers, and the second question and answer is the relevant one for the anthro warming issues, and is the one I and many others have been responding to. Arguing the first anwer and question when others are discussing the second is kind of at cross purposes, dont you think?

  36. welikerocks
    Posted Aug 1, 2006 at 10:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Seems to me that it was the volcanos on the Earth that created the ocean and the atmosphere in the first place. Right? Certainly they are worth more consideration. LOL

    And from what I have read about them, they ARE listed in the natural reasons column of “what makes climate” on Earth. Also, when there are eruptions there can be cooler temps globally, and in the last century they’ve been quiet. Perhaps in a round about way, this has contributed to the “warming” of the Earth, which I happen to think is natural any way. Less eruptions on Earth, the Earth may warm faster than usual? We don’t know. The Earth’s been having a time of it’s life for quite awhile without humanoids. We are just a blip and a huge timeline of hot and cold ages.

    Global Climate Change website.
    2.6.3. Volcanic Activity

    quote from the page:

    Major eruptions have been relatively infrequent this century, so the long-term influence has been slight. The possibility that large eruptions might, during historical and prehistorical times, have occurred with greater frequency, generating long-term cooling, cannot, however, be dismissed. In order to investigate this possibility, long, complete and well-dated records of past volcanic activity are needed.

    One of the earliest and most comprehensive series is the Dust Veil Index (DVI) of Lamb (1970), which includes eruptions from 1500 to 1900. When combined with series of acidity measurements in ice cores (due to the presence of sulphuric acid aerosols), they can provide valuable indicators of past eruptions.

    Using these indicators, a statistical association between volcanic activity and global temperatures during the past millennia has been found (Hammer et al., 1980). Episodes of relatively high volcanic activity (1250 to 1500 and 1550 to 1700) occur within the period known as the Little Ice Age, whilst the Medieval Warm Period (1100 to 1250) can be linked with a period of lower activity.

    Lee says: “volcanic emissions are not a source for the dramatic increase in atmospheric co2 over the last century. ”

    I think everyone knows this. It’s not a waste of time to consider everything that “makes the world go round” IMHO. What we want to know is : What is the natural amount of CO2 from volcanos or anything else considered “natural” before you start adding up the “un-natural”.

    This page also says this which is interesting:

    Explosive eruptions can inject large quantities of dust and gaseous material (such as sulphur dioxide) into the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere – see Figure 1.1, section 1.2.2), where sulphur dioxide is rapidly converted into sulphuric acid aerosols. Whereas volcanic pollution of the lower atmosphere is removed within days by the effects of rainfall and gravity, stratospheric pollution may remain there for several years, gradually spreading to cover much of the globe.

  37. eduardo zorita
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 4:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    # 22 A question that I’m mulling over: for the purposes of modeling NH average temperature (and ONLY this), do GCMs out-perform or contain any information on NH average tempeature that is not available from 1-D or 2-D models?

    Steve, I think, it must be so, since the range of global temperature rise simulated by different climate models under the same forcing scenario is not that small, something between 1.8 and 5.2 K for 2100 A.D. For the NH the numbers will be similar I would guess. Therefore, not all models are equal and they cannot contain the same information. The parameters of a one-dimensional model (sensitivity, ocean vertical diffusion) have to be prescribed in a highly agregated way.

    However, I think it is almost always possible to tune a 1-D model so that it reproduces the NH temperature of a 3-D model. The difference is that in the former these parameters are prescribed, wheras the latter models ‘create their own sensitivity via physical proceses (water vapor, clouds, etc) and these processes could ‘in theory’ be analysed or ‘audited’ if you prefer..

    Finally, just a word of caution: climate models are monsters in terms of computer code, say of the order of several hundred thousands lines. I think it is naive to expect, as Andrew Dressler said told in his blog, that 10 Kdollars is enough to audit them. One has to be aware that usually these codes have been written by dozens of persons along a couple of decades.

  38. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 5:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #37, Eduardo, I would assume that it would be at least several million dollars to audit a GCM in the way that I have in mind. An annual bank audit would cost far more than that and dozens if not hundreds of banks are audited every year. If it were $10 million, it would be a trivial amount of money in the policy context.

    Kaufman has argued that GCMs do not out-perform linear models for generating a NH average temperature given the same forcings. In IPCC TAR, Raper simulated the performance of GCMs for NH output using a simpler model – I haven’t investigated. If the simple model can simulate the GCMs well enough for IPCC TAR, maybe it’s the simpler model that should be considered.

    A linear model is really a 0-D model. That makes me wonder whether there are any 1-D or 2-D models? What would be the best ones? How do they perform?

    The reason for this line of inquiry is that for all its bulk, none of the IPCC reports contain a clear description of how AGW actually works. I once tried to find out where the number of 4 wm-2 came from and it wasn’t easy. I eventually traced it back to some articles by Ramanathan. If IPCC is writing for polict-makers, as opposed to patting one another on the back – and it’s not obvious that the latter isn’t what they are doing – then some explanation of the physics of AGW should have been provided in intermediate complexity.

  39. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 6:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re#33, struth, nice to be able to agree with you DD. Does that mean that, on this occasion, we’re both trolling ;) ?

  40. eduardo zorita
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 7:44 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Yes, I was referring excatly to the model used by Raper and Wigley,
    named Magicc. It is a simple model with some adjustable parameters
    and it can reproduce fairly well the global averages of GCMs. It consists of four boxes (land and ocean, NH and SH). In this sense, it is a useful model because it reduces the whole physics to just a few parameters.

    From this type of models ove can try to move towards a more realistic representation, e.g., atmosphere and ocean column, adding convection, and so on until one reaches the complexity of GCMs. It all depends on the level of description that one is interested in.

    A reference for the radiative forcing due to increase in CO2 concentrations and other GHG can be found in Myhre et al GRL 25, 2715 (1998).

  41. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 7:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #40. Eduardo, when people explain the AGW effect by saying that increased CO2 is absorbed at higher and colder altitudes, they are using a type of 1-D model. As a first approximation, I presume that mathematically one could take an “average” NH atmosphere in a 1-D situation and apply forcing factors (CO2, solar, volcanic) to it and get a single surface temperature time series. How much worse does something like that compare for reconstructing 20th century temperatures than GCMs?

  42. eduardo zorita
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 9:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #41 The differences among all models would come mostly from the cloud feedback. Different models will produce clouds in diferent locations and different altitudes, depending on their parametrization, on the water vapor transport (i.e. 3-dimensional dynamics of the atmosphere). In a simple model, one has to parametrize these quite complicated process and sumarize them in the ‘climate sensitivity’ parameter. In a one-dimensional model, an “horizontal average” cloud formation scheme should be implemented.. In GCM only cloud formation has to be parametrized.

    There should be many other processes and feedbacks, but my guess is that the most important single factor are clouds. One can strongly modify the response of a GCM by changing the cloud scheme. Clouds affect the radiative balance in visible and long-wave band, and may also affect chemical reactions of species. I am not a cloud expert, anyway.

  43. JP
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Reply


    The MT Tambora eruption in 1815 is well documented. The effects of this eruption were felt for the next 18 months (The Year Without a Summer for both North America and Europe). Red flaked snow fell in many parts of the world for the next 2 winters as sulfuric aresols precipiated out in the atmosphere. Mt Pinatumbo in 1992 had a less dramtic effect on climate, but it was still noticeable over North America.

    That said, unless there were a entire series of volcanic eruptions during an extended length of time, I’m not sure that volcanoes have any lasting effects on global climate.

    What is fascinating in this entire discussion is the long term debate about what really causes long term climate variations. There are those who believe we must turn our eyes to the upper tropesphere and statosphere to find the answers; ultimately they look to the sun. Others point to the chemical composition of lower tropespheric gases as the answer to the climate riddle. While I was a weather forecaster, most in the field believed it was the former. Twenty years later, the majority beleive it is the latter.

  44. welikerocks
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    JP, totally with you on this and even with those that think volcanos have nothing to do with right now climate. However, there’s thousands of volcanos on top and under the oceans not studied or understood. I linked another web page or study somewhere here that suggested underwater eruptions made of all kinds of gases, can effect ocean currents or El Ninos etc which then effect global temps, but it indicated it had not yet been published because it wasn’t accepted by quote: “the people who study El Ninos”. LOL


  45. JP
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 1:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That would turn the entire climate debate upside down if it all came down to geology and not chemistry or solar radiation. LOL.

  46. Pat Frank
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 4:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #22 — I don’t think any 1D, 2D, or 3D model will do any better than Craig Loehle’s entirely empirical approach. Funding should be used to develop GCMs in terms of the physics of climate, and not used to promote GCMs as climate predictive tools. They aren’t predictive. They only project the consequences of their own assumptions and uncertainties. Policy decisions should be based on semi-empirical 10-20 year maximum likelihood projections of current trends, with the idea of amelioration of possible negative climate effects, and, honestly, exploitation of any anticipated positive consequences.

  47. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 6:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #46. My inquiry was more along the lines that, if you’re only interested in an NH average, you’re doing a type of weighted sum. I just wonder whether there would be some insight from seeing what happens when you force some kind of average atmosphere or some kind of 2-D pole-to-pole model averaging over latitudes. Surely somebody’s tried to do something along these lines. I realize that there’s lots going on in 3-D, but it’s already parameterized; I wonder how much is gained by solving in 3-D rather than parameterizing in 20D or even 1-D.

    I don’t see Craig Loehle as comparable to this as the articles that I’ve read are more orented to curve fitting.

  48. TCO
    Posted Aug 2, 2006 at 7:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I kind of guessed what you were talking about as I thought about it. Glad to see that my hunch that you were referring to actual physical dimensions was correct (was worried it had some other fancy meaning).

    1D model would have radial symmetry (could also add symmetry at the equater or do without). 2D model would be the surface of the globe, but have no differentiation in different levels into the ocean or atmosphere (think you could still include depth of ocean as a characteristic…just that you wouldn’t have differing stratification for same depth ocean spots as a parameter). 3D would actually look at differences in tendancy for horizontal stratification (for instance a column of air that is hot on top, cold on bottom would be differentiated from the reverse or the profile of the thermocline in the ocean).

    I think doing this kind of work would be valuable even just for comparison to runs that are being done on the more complicated ones. Like using a toy model in a business problem.

    The thing that I don’t completely get is what is a GCM and how does it differ from an energy balance model. Seems to me that implicitly EBM is what we care about in the end. Is a GCM dynamic like a forecasting model? And if so, how does it work? It can’t be actual forecasting, no since that diverges chaotically? And how are seasons and such dealt with in it? (Note: these comments are curious, not critical. I’m not trying to make the “we can’t predict next month’s thunderstorm, therefore we can’t predict climate changes based on forcings fallacy.)

  49. Pat Frank
    Posted Aug 3, 2006 at 12:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #47 — It’s true Loehle’s work is curve-fitting, but the method has the advantage of easily incorporating known climate cycles and even adding representations of solar variations. The approach could readily become semi-empirical (meaning that it incorporates known physics), if researchers decided to develop that approach.

    However, I see no advantage to looking at 1D (longitudinal) or 2D (a line of longitude plus vertical mixing might be a better model than latitudinal averaging) physical models when the physical processes of the atmosphere are not in hand. Nor do any computational models resolve the formation/evaporation of aqueous aerosols, coacervates, or thermals at the metrical level that the processes actually happen. Therefore, I don’t see where the advantages lie in constructing simpler physical models that would remain very inadequate, theoretically.

    There is a large body of precedent in other sciences for the utility of semi-empirical models in short-range predictions. In physical organic chemistry, for example, there are extra-thermodynamic models called LFERs — Linear Free Energy Relationships — that include theory but are in fact semi-empirical, meaning they include parameters derived from fits to sets of data.

    When the theory is partially but not fully in hand, using semi-empirical models is a much better way to go. “Partially but not fully in hand,” definitely describes the state of climate theory.

  50. JoeBoo
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 1:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There is a very interesting post on Roger Piele Sr’s site from both Roger Sr. and Roger Jr. concerning Climate models. Check it out

  51. bender
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 1:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Interesting article. If “surprise is inevitable”, does this mean that their understanding of climate dynamics (as represented in the GCMs) is so poor that global-scale estimates of CO2 sensitivity coefficients are unreliable? Or does “surprise” refer to local surprise, such that these global estimates may be globally valid, but locally invalid (or hard to estimate)? I see a dilemma emerging here.

  52. jae
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 1:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm, I think the credibility of much of climate science is already in question, thanks to MM.

  53. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 1:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The biggest “surprise” (but not really, in the grand scheme of things) would be “hey kids, guess what, the interglacial is over!”

  54. bender
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 1:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Has the probability of that possibility been modeled in a formal way?

  55. ET SidViscous
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 2:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    AM I correct in thinking that the world spends the majority of the time in Ice ages, at approc 13C cooler than current?

    Regardless of what we do in the short term that is our true future, long term?

  56. bender
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 2:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Shouldn’t you include a turnkey script so we can verify that your estimate of 13°C is robust? ;)

  57. ET SidViscous
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 2:08 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Are you arguing that during Ice ages it is not ~13C cooler?

  58. bender
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 2:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #57 No. If I was arguing that, why would I ask #54? (I was just being an ass.)

    I figured if Sadlov wants to make the argument that the Earth is about to cool off, he’d want to support that with some literature. And while he’s at it, maybe he can explain why the inter-glacial temperature cycles are asymmetric, when they are supposed to be the sum effect of independent symmetric-cyclical forcings. If that’s the case, then the sum should be symmetrically cyclical as well.

    It’s an honest question about a subject I know nothing about.

    jae will be interested in the answer because it bears directly on the relevance of the Loehle approach to modeling temperatures as the sum of sinusoidal forcings.

    And it bears directly on the question of the expected suddenness of a shift to a glacial phase. If the summed cycles are symmetrical or assymetric it makes all the difference in the world.

  59. Dane
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 2:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #58 “explain why the inter-glacial temperature cycles are asymmetric, when they are supposed to be the sum effect of independent symmetric-cyclical forcings. If that’s the case, then the sum should be symmetrically cyclical as well.”

    Here goes. I am not an expert on this, but did spend about 3 years as an undergrad researching the subject so a know a bit. As I recall from a lengthy discussion with a Phd in Astrophysics, non of the forcing cycles are actually symetric, they are actually close, but not exactly, that alone may explain part of your question. Also, the Phd explained to me that there were other “wobbles” not taken directly into account in Malinkavitch theory. These other, very small wobbles may also play a part in why the system works the way it does and does not come out sysmetric as one might suppose.

    I hope that helps.

  60. Steve Bloom
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 3:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Regarding volcanoes and CO2, see this recent RC post. There are lots of useful links in the comments, including one to this very recent comprehensive study.

  61. Dane
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 3:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 60

    Read the article. Falls into what I originally said. Although they are trying to get good estimates, they admit a “paucity” of data makes actual estmaite accurracy difficult. They have only about 4-5 volcanoes actually measured, and only 1 during eruption. They continously voice the “threat” of manmade CO2 and GHG’s? It is again, bad science, although i give them credit for trying. The paper has a bias right from the start, stated in the opening sentance.

    So the question is still open. I am not saying volcanoes are responsible for the measured increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. I am wondering what the actual input to the earths system is from volcanics?

    I really expected more from the British GS, very poorly done.

  62. Steve Bloom
    Posted Aug 8, 2006 at 9:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #61: You may have read it, but you sure didn’t understand it. For example, since a substantial majority of vulcanism ia associated with mid-ocean ridges, you would suggest undertaking direct measurements by…? But why engage is such a vast and expensive enterprise if isotopic measurements allow the sources of CO2 to be adequately constrained (by e.g. taking advantage of the fact that C14 is produced only in the atmosphere)? Do you have any specific criticisms of the science involved? BTW, since the article I linked to is a *review* you’ll have to read the cited papers for the details.

  63. Dane
    Posted Aug 9, 2006 at 9:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #62 Re
    I understand the article just fine, and as you said it is simply a review, a very poorly done review at that. My specific critisism is with the fact they only have 4-5 volcanos sampled. There are many different types of volcanos, and only 1 sampled dealing with eruption. That in my view is really not enouhgh data to say anything. I am critical of the “estimates” as well. In my line of work it pays to collect at least some of the real world data yourself.

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